RIVERSIDE, California — The University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team scored the final eight points to defeat the University of California-Riverside 88-83 in their long-awaited Big West debut victory Friday afternoon at the UCR Student Recreation Center.
The 2020-2021 season is strange for the Rainbow Warriors with their limited conference schedule because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve been able to play a total of only two games and no Big West games in the fall.
The Rainbow Warriors, who won the first two games against NCAA Division II opponents Hawai’i Pacific and the University of Hilo, notably struggled with both opponents in the opening halves of those games.
Starting off quickly in the conference was heavily emphasized by Hawai’i head coach Eran Ganot, who was aware his team needed to get off to a fast start if they were to have any chance of beating Big West teams.
Catapulted by the performances of their two leading scorers Junior Madet and James Jean Marie, who combined to score 44 of the team’s 88 points, Hawai’i was able to secure their conference opener.
The Rainbow Warriors led for the majority of the game and didn’t struggle in the first half taking a 30-26 lead into halftime.
Hawai’i lost the lead late in the game when the Highlanders went ahead 81-80, but that lead was short-lived, as Hawai’i outscored Riverside 8-1 in the final two minutes of the game to secure the victory.
Because of COVID-19 truncating the conference schedules, the two teams will play each other again Saturday at 2 p.m. at the UCR Student Recreation Center.
Jason Blasco, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.